30 May 2011

Almost $2m student debt recovered from overseas

10:25 pm on 30 May 2011

Online advertising campaigns have helped the New Zealand Government recoup almost $2 million owed by graduates living overseas.

The money has been repaid since a series of campaigns started in October last year targeting graduates living in Australia.

The $412,000 campaign consisted of directly contacting those owing money by traditional methods such as telephone and letter.

The Inland Revenue Department also undertook an online advertising campaign on social networking site Facebook, as well as through Google and other websites.

More than $1 million was recouped as a result of the online advertising, while $818,000 was collected from direct contact with graduates.

The IRD says $2.3 billion was owed by overseas graduates, as of April, of which $286 million was overdue.

The Labour Party's Tertiary Education spokesperson David Shearer says the money recouped is small fry and only one-thousandth of what is owed.

However, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce says the Government gets a $4.50 return on every dollar it spends which represents good value for money.

The scheme has made good progress and shows the Government will be able to collect significant amounts of revenue over time, he says.